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Can I Get Disability Benefits After a Car Accident?

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Knowledgeable Car Accident Attorney Provides an Answer

Were you injured in a car accident? Are you wondering if you can get disability benefits? If you have been severely injured, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits; but you will not automatically qualify for it – the reason being that Social Security Disability (SSD), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) were created to help individuals with long-term disabilities.

A small number of states, including California, have short-term disability programs that offer cash benefits to victims of accidents. Contact an experienced car accident attorney to learn more about it.

SSA Requirements to Qualify for Disability Benefits

In order to qualify for any of these benefits, you must prove that you have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider you disabled if you fulfill all of the following conditions:

  • You have a severe disability (physical, mental or both) that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months;
  • You are unable to engage in any Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) that pays more than a certain amount (the amount is $21,840 per year for a blind individual and $14,040 for a non-blind individual);
  • You are incapable of performing the work you used to do before the accident; and
  • You are incapable of doing or being trained to do any other work that is less demanding.

Specific Conditions for Disability Benefits

You will quality for disability benefits if your car accident injuries have resulted in the following conditions leaving you disabled for 12 months or more and if you fulfill the requirements listed above. Here are some specific conditions in which you may qualify for disability benefits.

  • Fractured or broken bones: If the fractured or broken bone is located in your arm or leg and has not healed, or your arm or leg has not regained function despite surgery, leaving you unable to walk or perform any kind of work, then you may qualify for disability benefits. But if the fractured or broken bones are located in other areas of your body, they will have to prove that you are unable to do any kind of work because of the injuries.
  • Amputation of limbs: If one or more of your limbs have been amputated, leaving you disabled for life, then you may qualify for disability benefits. But once you are able to work with artificial limbs, your benefits may be stopped.
  • Severe burns: Severe burns are not known to take a very long time to heal and can cause long-term or permanent impairments. If you can prove that the severe burn you have sustained has rendered you unable to work, then you may qualify for disability benefits.
  • Spinal cord/back injuries: Spinal cord and back injuries are often debilitating and long lasting. If you have sustained severe spinal cord or back injuries, leaving you unable to work despite treatment and surgery, then you may qualify disability benefits.
  • Severe whiplash (neck injury): Normally, whiplash will not qualify you for disability benefits. But you may qualify if the whiplash injury you have sustained also includes a neck or spinal injury. You will most likely have to submit a MRI report for this.
  • Joint injuries: Joint injuries can make you unable to walk or work. If you can prove that your joint injuries have caused long-term or permanent impairments, then you may qualify for disability benefits.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Individuals with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually qualify for disability benefits since it often results in memory loss, inability to complete tasks and other impairments.
  • Other impairments: Other impairments listed by SSA to qualify for disability benefits include neurological disorders, sensory impairment (vision and/or hearing) and speech impairment (which is a common side effect of traumatic brain injury).

You should keep in mind that you do not automatically qualify for SSD benefits. Regardless of the type and extent of your disability, you must provide medical evidence to qualify. Talk to your car accident attorney to find out what you can do to qualify.